Archie Canada Archie Canada

Archie Canada (1874-1958)

Compiled and copyright by Linda Sparks Starr 2014

Archie with granddaugher Linda Sparks, ca. 1948

If Archie comes across as a “bigger-than-life” individual in this narrative it is only because he was my adored Grandpa and this is the way I, and others, remember him.  I grew up hearing the CANADA traditional story beginning with Archie’s grandfather Jesse. These stories led me into my life-long study of family history.  I’ve tried to identify the source of all statements, from my memory of stories told by ‘mother’ Lena Hazel and ‘Granny’, Elizabeth (LaCount) Canada, to those of other Canada children and grandchildren.  Although some comes from letters received, other stories were taken from my memory of conversations. Therefore errors are entirely mine. Corrections and additional stories are always welcome.    -- Linda Sparks Starr 2014

A good overview of Archie’s life is presented in Pioneers of Northeast Missouri: Their Ancestors and Descendants, pages 59-60, by Marlin A Fields of Hillsdale, Michigan.  He visited with Archie’s children – Claude, Marie, Sarah and possibly Bill – in the 1970s while gathering information.

ARCHIE was born in Linn County, Missouri, on 24 April 1874. He went with his parents at an early age to Jack County, Texas, then to the Chickasaw Nation, where his parents homesteaded. He met his future wife, Elizabeth LaCount at the funeral of her mother. He and Elizabeth were married 25 Dec. 1894.
Archie took part in land runs for the land of the Pottawatomie, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne Indians as well as in the Cherokee Strip, his first at the age of seventeen. He was too young then to claim land, but he was getting practice. In 1895, as a result of participating in the Kickapoo land run, he staked a claim west of Shawnee. Lawsuits followed as many others claimed the same tract. The courts finally settled the dispute on 23 May 1901.

Archie ca. 1891

The first voting in the precinct was done in the barn on Archie’s farm. According to Archie’s son, Claude, each person after voting passed on through the barn and received a glass of whiskey.
Archie returned to the place of his birth on at least two occasions, both in the 1920’s. On his first trip he took some of his aunts back to Missouri to see those who had not moved to Oklahoma.

Archie and his Standifer aunts
Archie’s wife and two of his daughters, Lena Hazel and Sarah, went with Archie on the second trip.  Around 1935 or 1936 Archie took a hunting and camping trip west to Arizona and California. Accompanying him were his wife, Elizabeth, his daughter Elnora and her husband, and his daughter, Lena Hazel [and son Bill].

Now to memories shared by his children and grandchildren with my personal comments of historical context or otherwise explanatory asides.

The day of the Land Run, April 22, 1889, Archie’s father, Marshall Canada was 43rd in line to file for a land claim at the land office in Guthrie.  History relates there was a line at the door before the noon gunshots announcing the start of the run.  The first two filers were the sheriff and his deputy, charged with keeping people from entering the land office until the opening guns were sounded.  One wonders how Marshall knew the family would choose the claim marker for the SE Quarter of Section 2, Township 7 North, Range 2 West of the Indian Median. 

Grandson Robert Gentry, who heard this from Archie’s brother “Lum” Canada or Lum’s wife Cora:  “Archie, as eldest son,  [Although he was two days short of his fifteenth birthday--LKS] drove the wagon across the South Canadian River during the Land Run of 1889. Lum remembered holding tightly to the side of the wagon as they crossed the river.”

Marshall and Sarah Canada ca. 1891

noble home 2
The Marshall and Sarah Canada homestead near Noble, OK

Daughter Lena Hazel Sparks:  “March 1894 Archie and his father helped dig the grave for Olivia, mother of Archie’s future wife Elizabeth LaCount.  Olivia’s funeral was the first time he set eyes on the then 14 year old Elizabeth.  They were married Christmas Day that same year, just three days past her 15th birthday; he was twenty.”

lic front

Son Claude, interviewed by his daughter Rachel (Canada) Lale: “Before his marriage, Archie hunted all over the area from south of Noble to the area he later claimed in Shawnee to Keokuk Falls. He trapped quail in the Falls area and shipped them north. He stayed with an Indian woman when in the Keokuk area. She gave him a horse and blanket or saddle the last time he was there, just before his marriage.”  The notorious town of Keokuk Falls area was located NE of present day Shawnee in Pottawatomie County,  near the Lincoln County border. It was therefore within ‘wet’ Oklahoma Territory but close to ‘dry’ Indian Territory. Dozens of saloons did a thriving business. Today only a cemetery remains of the wild and wooly community.

Son Claude:  “Dad made the Run May 23, 1895 on horseback. Got land NW of Shawnee which had been part of the Kickapoo Strip.  They lived in a dugout and had protesters to the property. He received a patent for the land signed by Theodore Roosevelt at Guthrie in 1907.  Dad sold sand from the farm to build the first building at St. Gregory’s and also sand to build the first building at O.B.U. He delivered the sand by horse and wagon. The bed of the wagon was designed by Archie. The sand was off-loaded by tilting the boards which were placed on edge letting the sand drain out.

Dad was a cotton farmer. He also had two to five share croppers. He sold potatoes by contract, shipping them north by train by the railway car lots. He also raised mules and sold them to the army during WWI. The army personnel came to the farm to purchase them. He also raised cattle, sheep and turkeys.”

Archie with a flock of turkeys; 1918

Depositions taken April 25, 1901 enlighten us about the specific events of May 23, 1895, day of the Kickapoo Land Run, which led to various lawsuits over the land Archie claimed. Several seemed to think Archie’s father played some role in Archie getting the stake claim that day. Although names of other individuals suing for the same land is mentioned, it appears only one lawsuit made its way to the courts. Answers to questions addressed to Archie’s father and then Archie’s reply perhaps does make a probable cause for other claimants to the same tract.

Question to M. L. Canada of Norman, O. T.:  “It appears …  on the morning of May 23, 1895, you and a man by the name of Nichols went from Shawnee, O. T., across a portion of the Kickapoo lands to a point north of Dave Hardin’s on the Kickapoo line. State in your own way how you came to make that trip. Answer:  Well, talking with Mr. Hardin, Archie decided to make the race north of his place there. Me and Mr. Nichols were not going to take any land and we just rode across and saved about four miles. Question:  Did you have any agreement or understanding with your son Archie that you would go into the Kickapoo country for his benefit …  Answer: No. Question: How close were you to any tract of land open to settlement and entry on this trip from Shawnee to this point on the river?  Answer:  About three quarters of a mile. … Question: When did you first see the land or get on it? Answer:  It was twenty-one years ago.”


Several questions to Archie were about communications between him and his father; the last is the most relevant to us:


"Archie Canada Rests; Hearing Closed" is the last specific statement regarding the lawsuits against Archie’s claim to the land. That very day he began the process for applying for Homestead land. Archie and two witnesses made a final appearance before the Land Commission October 2, 1906. Requirements for obtaining homestead land included continuous residency for five years and general improvements added each year.

Archie: “I built a dug out in July 1895 – built a house in spring 1896. Established actual residence 23rd day of June 1895, living in a tent about one month before my house built. I have built a six room frame house, barn, granary, built fence, value $2000, orchard 8 acres. My family consists of ‘Myself, my wife and four children. [We] was away for about two months at two different times … For about two months once in fall of 1895 looking around in the county – and in 1897 I worked on R. R. near Purcell I. T.  I was temporarily absent – my family was with me.  I have cultivated about 107 acres for 5 years …” 
A patent to this land was awarded August 14, 1907, and filed in the Pottawatomie County Courthouse Jan 7, 1908.  [From Homestead Application #19529, National Archives, Washington D.C.]

home 1915
At home in 1915: Marie, Sarah, Elizabeth, Bill and Archie

Now, stepping back to the time just after the run and the birth of their first child:

Archie writing from “Shawnee O T Aug 9, 1896:  Dare wife I received your letter to day an was glad to hear from you an to hear that you and the boy was well I wish that I cood see that boy an you. We are having a hell of a time dick is cookin he is going home to day an will is goin with him. I am hauling for lumber. I cant com down for a week or to I will com down as soon as you get able to com hom. I am tird of bachan  ever thing is burnt up. Well I will close for this time so by by from A C to his son.” 

letter front    letter back

The return address on the envelope reads:  Alvia Baker, Lindsay, OK. R 4 # 52. Alvia (LaCount) Baker was Archie’s sister-in-law and “Dick” was her husband. “Will” is Willie LaCount, younger brother of Alvia and Elizabeth Canada.  Son Charlie Canada was born July 27, 1896 near Noble – probably at the home of Archie’s parents.  Marie was born in the dug out. Then, according to Sarah (via Elizabeth McClain), the unnamed little girl who died was the first child born in the house. Elnora thought she was the first.

Linda’s memories of stories told by Elizabeth Canada:  “They lived in a tent with two young children.  One day she saw Indians on horseback who had wandered off the nearby reservation.  She became nervous when they stopped and stared at her and the children.  Archie was plowing in a back pasture and she was alone. After the Indians rode on, she gathered up the kids and walked to the field to be nearer to Archie.  Although he assured her she had nothing to fear from the Indians, she followed him to the fields for a few days afterwards.”

Probably from Claude Canada: “The son of a Kickapoo Indian Chief told that the Canada place (on the main highway between Oklahoma City and Shawnee) was a stopping point to water horses. He related that one time a group of Indians, including himself and his father, stopped to water their horses. The boy was very much impressed when Archie invited all of them in to share the midday meal with his family. It was the first time the Indian boy had sat at a ‘white man’s table’.“

Daughter Elnora McClain, November 1985:  “Archie had a large vineyard which he sold the grapes from. I never saw a still, but heard Bill say that Archie did have one. Mama made jelly and jam from the grapes and sold some too.  We had an orchard of apples, cherries, berries including cranberries!  Dad enjoyed trying out new plants and he would hear of something different and order the seeds and plant them. We went to a non-denominational church at Acme school house. Dad would take us in the wagon and attend too. One time it was snowing and Elizabeth and I wanted to go. We went into the woodshed and started praying that the snow would stop. Archie came in and said we couldn’t go. I asked, ‘But if the snow stops, can we?’ It did, and we went. When we came out after the service, the wagon was full of snow. That was my first prayer that was answered.”

Elnora, September 1985: “My Dad didn’t have money to throw away but he worked and had about as much money as any one we knew and Dad would help the neighbors when they needed help and he always provided for his family. The older kids went to school at Acme School, a two mile walk from home.  She, as the youngest, was allowed to ride in the buggy with the teacher. The other kids had to walk home, but she stayed after school while the teacher swept the floor and did other chores and then rode home with her.”

beth elnora
Beth and Elnora

Archer transferred the family to the Dale School District sometime between 1913 and 1915.  Elnora remembered it as being the year she entered the seventh grade and Marie remembered it as being four years after she graduated from Acme.

bill and hazel 1924   marie charlie elnora
The two youngest, posed by the school bus; ca. 1924                                            Marie, Charlie and Elnora

Marie is the probable source for this:  “Archie and Elizabeth left Marie in charge of the family one afternoon when Claude was a baby.  Much to her dismay, a band of roving gypsies pulled into the yard. It was common knowledge they were thieves.  Marie called the children into the house and locked the doors behind them. Part of the gypsy band headed for the barn; the others came up to the house.  Claude was lying on a pallet near the screen door. When the band came near the house, Marie pointed at Claude and said “meningitis”.  The ones at the house immediately turned back, calling the others. The gypsies left without stealing anything.” 

home 1921
The Canada home in 1921, now with a big porch and added room.

Granddaughter Vivian Logan, March 1985:  “I do remember when we were young Grandpa would bring corn candy home from town but before he would give us any, we had to tell him our names. My name as far as he was concerned was ‘Jack’ and Lena Hazel’s was ‘Biddie’. As bad as we hated to tell him our names, we wanted the treat.”  In undated letter:  “Mom remembers most of the Standifers because Grandpa went to Noble a lot to see them.”

Lena Hazel and Vivian
Vivian Logan and aunt Lena Hazel

Elnora:  “It became a Canada tradition for the brothers and sisters to spend their first wedding night at Archie’s.  This was because ‘they liked the house so much’.  She remembers her Canada aunts and uncles as liking to play tricks on one another. She and Beth would sit at the top of the stairs and watch the adults acting like children below.  She remembers them as a fun loving bunch who really enjoyed being with one another. They often had four or five extra staying with them besides their own growing family. Archie’s brothers and sisters were frequent visitors and his brothers often lived with them between jobs. Elizabeth’s father, Benjamin LaCount, also lived with them for about three years.”

Linda:  “I remember Mother telling that Archie didn’t approve of Elnora’s current beau, so insisted she, Marie and their dates ride in the same buggy, so Marie could chaperone the younger Elnora. The girls and their beaus didn’t like this, so devised a trick. Before picking up the girls, the boys would hide one buggy somewhere, and ride together to the Canadas to pick up the girls. They then would return to the buggy and continue their ‘date’ in separate buggies. This worked until Archie, while on patrol duty, discovered them in separate buggies.

lizzie and archie
Lizzie and Archie, perhaps ca. 1935
Mother related that Elizabeth wanted to name the last son after his father – Archie. She chose the full name ‘Warren Archie’, but Archie didn’t agree to it. He reportedly said, ‘You can name him whatever you want, but I’ll give him a name he’ll carry to the grave. It’s Bill.’

Mother said Elizabeth read letters and the newspaper to Archie every evening. Indeed, Mother believed he couldn’t read or write. When she wasn’t available, it fell to Mother and Bill to read in her stead.  This was a painful procedure for both, and an exasperating one for Archie! When Bill came to a word he didn’t know or couldn’t pronounce, he’d just skip it and go on as if it hadn’t been there. Archie would shake his head, trying to make sense out of the news.  Either Archie finally caught on to this trick, or Lena Hazel wasn’t quick enough, for she’d have to spell out the words she didn’t know.  He would then tell her the word and she would continue from that point. She’d wonder at the end of the story how he knew the words she’d spell out, yet not be able to read? According to their daughter Rachel, Dorothy Canada, wife of Claude, also believed Archie couldn’t read or write. She and Claude married around the time Lena Hazel was old enough to read the newspaper. The 1890 census for M. L. Canada shows son Archie’s occupation as ‘in school’ and  he wrote the letter in 1896. This all leads me to believe he just couldn’t see the words, and was too proud to get reading glasses.

claude and charlie
Claude and Charlie

In the late 1920’s daughter Elizabeth--Beth--contracted tuberculosis and spent time in the TB Sanatorium at Talihina, 200 miles away. Mother said they visited her from time to time, spending several days with each visit. They would leave before daylight  and drive all day. Sometimes they’d make it all the way by sundown, but more often they’d stop beside the road for the night.  In Talihani they camped under the trees just outside the hospital grounds and would visit with her during the day.

Elizabeth "Beth" Canada

On one of the return trips, in one of the towns they drove through, politicians were standing around the courthouse, giving speeches and ‘electioneering’ in general. Archie greatly enjoyed politics and couldn’t resist. He parked the car and spent the afternoon listening to and participating in the ‘discussion’ even though he didn’t know the candidates or particulars of the issues. Archie was a ‘die-hard Democrat’ and she remembers him going to Oklahoma City on court days and for any political happening.”

by car
Liz and Archie; early 1930's

Gilbert Sparks, cousin of Archie’s son-in-law Jesse Sparks, in interview March 1994:  “I  knew old man Canada … I just knew him when I seen him … he’d come over there to Dale … to buy stuff at Dale … he milked cows, then, when I did. When I was going around with the milk truck and we’d meet over there at the Kraft cheese plant … he’d get whey out of them whey tanks … where you make cheese, the whey stuff … he was feeding some hogs out … he was fixing it up in a slop for the hogs, grain and stuff with it … and he’d put the buttermilk in there too  … they’d put that in the whey tanks where they churrned the butter … it’d hold a whole lot of milk.”

Several socialist or otherwise anti-government leaning organizations sprouted in the early days of Oklahoma. The underlying reasons were the economic depression, dropping prices for farm produce and feelings that the average person had no voice in the government.  It was felt officials were corrupt individuals always taking the side of the rich against the poor no matter how unjust the cause. One of these organizations was the KuKluxKlan, an organization few want to talk about today. However the Klan of the 1920s in Oklahoma didn’t have the same mentality as today’s Klan. Those joining were likely to be members of other fraternal associations such as the Masonic Orders, Knights of Pythias, Elks or Woodmen of the World. [Archie was a member of the altruistic Odd Fellows most of his life. - LKS] Social conditions in Oklahoma early 1920s were the main reason for the rise in membership in this state. The Klan disappeared as economic and other conditions improved from mid-1920s.   [Larry O’Dell, Oklahoma Historical Society; Wilipedia; John Zerzan]  

Elnora:  “During a church service one evening, the doors suddenly opened wide and hooded men dressed in flowing white robes walked in, marched all around the room and down to the altar where they placed over $100 in the collection plate before marching out again. At the time she didn’t know her Dad was one of the men.  She did see from the upstairs windows the white robed members riding by on horseback or in buggies at night.  ‘The KKK did more to help the people in trouble than any other organization at that time.’” 

Archie with his ever-present pipe.

Lena Hazel:  “Dad would not speak of the KKK activities in front of us kids; nor did I ever see the white robes or hoods around the house. From time to time he would be gone at night without telling us where he was going and occasionally he would tell us to stay inside while he was gone. “  It is worth noting that Archie did not oppose his daughter's conversion to Roman Catholicism to marry a Catholiic, although the Klan was usually anti-Catholic. He was always quite at home with Native Americans.

The cost of restoration for Archie’s once-splendid barn was prohibitive; it was torn down in 2013 before someone was hurt by falling timbers. Trespassers ignored the signs and the old structure was a temptation to adventurous children. During the destruction, a board with writing came to light. It was otherwise hidden by shadows.  The writing said Archie Canada was the leader of the KKK and this was followed by a list of other members.  No record was kept so the other names will remain anonymous.

The Canada barn in decline.

Lena Hazel:  “Archie was also a member of the Anti-Horse Thief Association and upon occasion joined a local posse to chase after a chicken thief or some such in the neighborhood.  Bill told that he was sometimes thanked for these services with a bottle of liquor or homebrew which he kept hidden in the barn.  In addition he was road overseer for the Bales Township. At times these duties called for him to camp overnight away from home.”

Grandson Billy Canada:  “Members of the Anti-Horse Thief Association were trying to discover a thief in the neighborhood. They’d pick one area of the neighborhood to patrol that night and something would be stolen from another part of the neighborhood.  One night, after the decision was made as to which part of the neighborhood they’d patrol that evening, Archie paid a teen-ager to remain behind and see who didn’t go with the patrol.  As usual, the head of the association found an excuse to go elsewhere. The teen-ager followed him, and discovered the head of the association was the thief.”

Shawnee News Star column “Twenty Years Ago”, date cut off:  “Archie Canada, a farmer living northwest of the city, didn’t get his man, but he took a long shot and won. Waked by the burglar alarm in his chicken house, he grabbed his shotgun and stepped outside. Couldn’t see a thing, but he fired in the direction his dog was barking and next day found a sack containing 12 chickens and a five-gallon can of hog lard.”

Sarah:  “Archie wouldn’t allow us girls to cut our hair. Lena Hazel hated the braids which she could sit on and which the boys untiringly pulled. I wore mine pulled back with a clasp.  I was a junior in high school and really wanted my hair short like the other girls wore theirs.  Finally, George who lived with and worked for us cut it for me. Beth warned that Archie would be upset. Was he ever!  He got out his shotgun and ordered George to leave, but George stood his ground. Archie told me to wear a night cap until it grew out. I did for a couple months and then quit wearing the cap.  From then on I’d go to Charlie’s for him to keep it trimmed.  Archie allowed Lena Hazel to cut her hair in time for her eighth grade graduation.”

Granddaughter Elizabeth McClain, June 1985:  “In October 1935, Grandpa, Grandma, Mother, Dad, Hazel, Bill, Vance and I left in the rain late one evening in Grandpa’s car and Dad’s pickup. We drove thru Amarillo, Albuquerque, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest … We camped out every night except a few – don’t know how long we were gone but seems like 3 weeks. … I have a picture of Grandpa with a long stick standing by a cactus and still couldn’t reach the top. Also a picture of Grandpa, Hazel and I feeding a deer in Grand Canyon National Park.  … I don’t remember the black chest you asked about, [a home-made chest inherited by Linda from her mother] but Dad had a canvas over the back of his pickup and carried the bedding and food. We followed a circus into one town and as we parked, lots of kids ran over to the pickup saying “bet the elephant is in here.”  The black chest could have had the cooking staples or pans in it as we cooked over an open fire at night and morning – with sandwiches and pork & beans for lunch.

1935: Cleet McClain, Elizabeth Canada, Elizabeth "Betty Lou" McClain, Lena Hazel Canada, Vance McClain, Bill Canada, Archie.The tall cactusGrand Canyon National Park: Lena Hazel Canada, Elizabeth McClain and Archie Canada

Granddaughter Elizabeth McClain, June 1985:  “In October 1935, Grandpa, Grandma, Mother, Dad, Hazel, Bill, Vance and I left in the rain late one evening in Grandpa’s car and Dad’s pickup. We drove thru Amarillo, Albuquerque, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest … We camped out every night except a few – don’t know how long we were gone but seems like 3 weeks. … I have a picture of Grandpa with a long stick standing by a cactus and still couldn’t reach the top. Also a picture of Grandpa, Hazel and I feeding a deer in Grand Canyon National Park.  … I don’t remember the black chest you asked about, [a home-made chest inherited by Linda from her mother] but Dad had a canvas over the back of his pickup and carried the bedding and food. We followed a circus into one town and as we parked, lots of kids ran over to the pickup saying “bet the elephant is in here.”  The black chest could have had the cooking staples or pans in it as we cooked over an open fire at night and morning – with sandwiches and pork & beans for lunch.

They hunted deer in the Flagstaff area for a few days. Hazel stayed at camp with Vance and me while the others were out hunting or going to town for supplies. Vance and I made wooden knives and hid behind trees and threw them at each other. Hazel had to pull one knife from my forehead (still have the scar among the wrinkles). Hazel made graham cracker sandwiches (powder sugar and butter between the cracker) trying to keep me from crying.

Ada May Brumley and her daughter, Betty, from Williams or Flagstaff came out to camp and hunted deer also. Ada May was Mother’s age, however I think her folks had been very good friends of Grandpa and Grandma. We all went to San Diego, Calif. to see the great Pacific. Don’t remember much except seeing a picture of Betty Brumley and me jumping waves. We returned through Phoenix and stopped at the home of Grandma’s Aunt. Think it was Sam & Elnore (Brandom) Whitten. We had our first taste of figs. I remember the table was set when we got there and it was hours before we ate.  Also on the way back we toured the Carlsbad Caverns, also a small bat cave next to the cavern. Late in the evening there seemed like thousands of bats leaving the cave – we never thought of getting rabies from them.”

Daughter Lena Hazel writing about the hunting trip to AZ fall 1935:  “Dad and my brother Bill went after some water. We had to go two miles after the water and then had to get it out of a pond but it was good when you was real thirsty. … Daddy came in wanting the boys to go help him bring his deer in. He had killed the deer on the side of a canyon that was two miles deep and he couldn’t get it by himself. … He killed the deer about three miles from camp. The boys cut a limb from a tree and with small rags tied the deer onto the limb. Each one took a hold of the limb and carried the deer back to camp. They were tired when they reached camp with the deer.

The next evening I went with Daddy a hunting. We had to wear something red so other hunters would know us from a deer. That morning a big bear was killed in the canyon. The men that killed the bear had to cut it up to get it out of the canyon. Daddy and I was walking alone. He was showing me where he had killed the deer. All at once he stopped and started to shoot. I closed my eyes and stopped my ears up so I couldn’t see or hear him. But I could hear something scream. When I opened my eyes Daddy had shot a wild cat.

Daddy and I was going back to camp after shooting the wild cat. We was about three miles from camp when we met a cow boy. He was rounding up the cattle to put in another pasture for the winter. We followed him until he reached a big gate. He opened the gate and the cattle all run through it, and he closed the gate and rode up the mountain. We went on to camp where several men and boys was. They was cooking their supper so Daddy got to talking to them and I was afraid to go on to our camp. I didn’t know which way to go. While we was there, three deer came up to get a drink out of a pond by their camp. But they were all doe and we couldn’t kill anything but bucks.

The next morning about 4 o’clock I got up to go with Daddy. We went one way and the boys went another way. We hunted until about 10 o’clock and Daddy was too sick to hunt any more. So we went back to camp. It looked like rain, we was afraid Daddy would get worse, so we packed up and when the boys got there, we left. We drove until night and Daddy was feeling better so we stayed all night close to a highway near Flagstaff, Ariz. It rained all night long on us and when we got up the next morning, we could see the top of the Yarnell Mountains and it was white with snow. We drove over to the bottom of it and the boys hunted until noon and never found anything, so we started for home.”

Granddaughter Elizabeth McClain:  “We saw our first porcupine on this trip.  Grandma kicked it to see if it was alive and the porcupine quills went through her shoe. Archie had to remove the quills with pliers.”

Grandson Vance McClain 1998:  “Before breakfast one morning, your mother, Liz and I walked away from camp through the scrub brush (just about 7 or 8 feet tall).  Back in camp Grandmother got worried about us and started walking and yelling ‘Lena Hazel, if you don’t answer me, I’m going to whip you.’  Granddaddy told Bill ‘Son, you’d better go  after your mother or she will get lost too.’”
Linda:  This hunting trip was the last truly happy time in Mother’s childhood.  She explained that, in her opinion, Archie never got over the death of his daughter Elizabeth (Canada) Kerker in 1932.  Elizabeth “Beth” must have been a special  woman for everyone used reverent tones while saying only nice things about her. Mother said around the time they returned from the hunting trip Archie began having severe headaches. The only relief seemed to be running cold water from the water pump over his head. She watched him pumping the hand pump, getting up a strong stream of water, then putting his head underneath the stream.  She also wondered if it came from an infected cut under his eye. It seems Charlie gave advice for running the farm one too many times, and a fight ensued.  The cut under Archie’s eye became infected requiring a lot of medical attention. 

No one knew or understood the reasons, but as time went on, Archie became suspicious of family members to the point he feared his wife was trying to poison him.  He was eventually admitted to Central State Hospital where records show he was diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic.  Modern medicine may have a better diagnosis; certainly there  are drugs and therapies now that would have managed Archie’s illness.  The hospital’s file on Archie has several letters from his wife to the administrator asking about Archie’s prognosis. One letter from Elizabeth, dated  Jan 28, 1937 to D. W. Griffin, M. D.: “I am today sending my husband … a box of his favorite eats – boiled ham, corn bread sticks and fried peach pie.” Visiting family members were also allowed to bring food to share during their time with the patient.

Linda:  Once out of the hospital Archie and Elizabeth divorced; the papers indicate a division of the property. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth, with daughter Lena Hazel and Bill still living at home, received the house and outbuildings plus 80 acres.  Archie got the rest of the land on the north side of the property which included sharecroppers houses. He lived in one of these and the wife of one sharecropper did the cooking and washing for him. In the 1940s he moved to Arkansas where his brothers Charlie and Tom and eventually John resided.  When he could no longer take care of himself, he moved to the Oldfellows Lodge Retirement Home near Checotah and finally a nursing home in Shawnee.  He walked away from both so he was admitted a second time to Central State Hospital, Norman. 

bros s
Archie (second from left) and brothers.

Linda remembers Lena Hazel’s story that “Archie called blondes ‘red heads’. So Mother described me to Archie in a letter as ‘red headed’. When he saw me the first time, he emphatically informed her I was a blonde!”  I cherish the picture of him holding me when I was nine months old and suspect this is the first time he saw me. That, or another time he visited us, he planned to return to Arkansas via the highway going through Seminole.  This meant he had to negotiate a confusing intersection, and Mother feared the worst. She asked Daddy to follow him, at a discreet distance of course, so she would know he‘d made it through without incident.

1957: Bill, Lena Hazel, Sarah, Lizzie, Charlie, Marie, Elnora

As I remember it, he lived up in the hills north of the little town of Van Buren, Arkansas, on the property of a family named “Jones”. Two of his brothers – Tom and Charles -- lived in Van Buren. To get to the Jones farm, one had to cross Lee Creek which looked more like a river at flood stage; at least this is the impression from pictures taken during the flood stage. I have vague memories, helped by the photos, of visiting him in Arkansas circa 1953 or 1954.  We tracked him down in a field; he was walking behind a team of mules and a wooden-handled plow. Other pictures show me riding ‘Dusty’ and Grandpa walking patiently alongside. Archie talked Mr. Jones into selling Dusty to us. I was told at the time Grandpa gave me Dusty, but as an adult I learned Daddy paid the money.

Archie, "Dusty" and Linda Sparks

Archie Canada died March 21, 1958; the date wasn’t included in the obituary published in the Shawnee News Star:

Archie Canada, 83, route 1 Shawnee, died Friday in a local hospital. He had been in ill health for the past several years and critically ill for the past three years. A retired farmer, Canada was born in Lynn County, Mo., April 24, 1874. He left Missouri with his parents when a child and the family homesteaded south of Norman in Cleveland county, where his father was a farmer and rancher.  In 1895 Canada made the Kickapoo run and homesteaded six miles northwest of Shawnee, and from 1895 until his retirement in 1940 he was a prominent farmer of that area. He was road overseer for 14 years in Bales township. For many years a large picnic was held on the Canada farm in May celebrating the opening of the Kickapoo territory. The Canada barn was the first voting place for that precinct. He married Miss Elizabeth LaCount on Dec. 25, 1894 at Noble.   He was a member of the Oddfellows Lodge No. 55 for more than 55 years. He was also a member of the Anti-Horse Thief association.
Survivors include his wife, three sons, four daughters, ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren plus a brother (C. J. “Lum” of Clayton, OK) and sister (Lena Pool of CA).


Children:                   Photographs of the Children
Charlie Lafeyette
Lydia Marie
Baby girl
Elnora Emma
Elizabeth Alice
Claude Columbus
Sarah Mildred
Lena Hazel